Published on May 5th, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb

The History Of The One Pound Coin

Our series on coins moves onto the pound coin this week, the thickest coin currently in circulation in Britain. Unlike some of the previous coins featured, such as the one pence, two pence and ten pence coins, the pound coin was not introduced immediately after decimalisation in 1971.

Instead, a one pound note had been in circulation but by 1980 it was deemed that a coin instead of a note would be more appropriate for the one pound. This was because the one pound note was seen to be in constant use and it therefore only had an average life span of nine months.

The one pound coin was therefore introduced after a consultation period as it had a much longer life span and would be more practical for use with vending machines. As such the coin was introduced in 1983 and was made to be very different to the other coins in circulation at that time to ensure it would stand out.

Amongst the unique traits of the one pound coin when first introduced was the ‘yellow’ colour and the thicker size. The 3.15mm thickness means that it is easy to distinguish the one pound coin from other coins and the 9.5g weight makes it the second heaviest coin behind the £2.

It has featured many different designs on the reverse that portray various aspects of each country in the United Kingdom. Common images on pound coins include leeks and dragons for Wales, thistles for Scotland, flax and Celtic crosses for Northern Ireland and oak trees for England.

In 2017 the Royal Mint will introduce a new one pound coin to help reduce the levels of counterfeiting associated with one pound coins. The new coin is being called ‘the most secure coin in the world’ and looks similar to the 12 sided threepenny bit that was circulated from 1937 until decimalisation.

The design of the coin will be similar to that of the £2 coin, featuring two different colours and is reported to feature ‘state of the art technology’ that will allow it to be authenticated quickly. A competition for the design of the new coin was won by 15 year old David Pearce, who created an image that features the leek of Wales, thistle of Scotland, shamrock of Northern Ireland and rose of England all emerging from a Royal Coronet.

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